ACT website

the web


purple light rail




Affordable Housing in Bethesda

Letter to County Council, July 9, 2017

Dear Council members,

The Action Committee for Transit opposes the proposal to remove the height incentive bonus for affordable housing in Bethesda for existing commercial properties on the east side of Wisconsin Avenue and other properties within 200 feet of single-family neighborhoods. This would not only reduce the future supply of much-needed affordable housing but send a strong message to our county’s working families that they are not welcome in Bethesda.

We understand that staff is looking into other options for affordable housing but ACT prefers there be no delay. If this issue must be re-visited, and we very much hope it isn't, the Council’s goal must be increased affordable housing and more housing overall in downtown Bethesda and at all transit centers.

Access to transportation (and by extension, access to good jobs) is the leading indicator of whether someone can escape poverty. As a result, it behooves us to give people with limited means the opportunity to live in places where they have access to good transportation.

Downtown Bethesda, with its transit hub and tens of thousands of jobs within close reach, is one of those locations. If this county is serious about improving economic mobility for all of its residents, it needs to maximize affordable housing here.

Our county has invested and will continue to invest millions of dollars in WMATA and the Purple Line. To get the greatest return on this investment, as many people as possible should be working and living near transit hubs such as downtown Bethesda. It makes no sense to spend money on Metro and the Purple Line and then not maximize the number of people who are likely to use it the most heavily.

Last month, the County joined the “We Are Still In” letter, and committed the County to meeting the carbon emissions goals of the Paris Agreement. To meet these goals, more housing must be built in dense urban areas. Our future demands nothing less.


Ronit Aviva Dancis

Action Committee for Transit